Waste Disposal and Recycling

Plastic pollution is one of the largest threats facing our oceans. Plastics are used in an enormous and expanding range of products due to their relatively low cost, ease of manufacture and versatility. Most are petroleum-based plastic, a product designed to last forever. They pose an ever-increasing problem to aquatic environments, as they don’t biodegrade. Plastics breakdown into smaller and smaller pieces, but don’t get absorbed into our natural systems and therefore never disappear.  

plastic pollution, marine debris, waste

What are the impacts of marine debris?

Marine debris not only damages important habitats including coral reefs, shellfish and seagrass beds, but also causes significant harm to wildlife, including sea turtles, whales and birds. In fact, 693 different species have encountered marine debris, with many of them suffering from entanglement and ingestion (Plymouth University). And plastics are not only toxic themselves, but they act as sponges absorbing toxins and chemicals in the water. When marine creatures consume the small plastic debris and plastic bags that resemble their food sources, the plastics and toxins enter the food chain and may eventually end up on our dinner plates.

Marine debris can also be quite large and difficult to see in the ocean, especially if it’s floating just below the surface. Accidently striking debris can severely damage or sink your vessel.

As boaters, there are many ways we can keep our oceans clean and prevent debris from entering our waterways.

Before you leave the dock:

  • Buy products in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging you need to discard.
  • Remove packaging from products before you carry them onto your boat.
  • Choose products sold in recycled and recyclable containers.
  • Use reusable containers and items whenever possible.
  • Reuse items numerous times – bags, containers, boxes, etc.

Onboard:

  • Don’t throw any trash overboard.
  • Secure possessions below deck before the seas get rough, so nothing is accidentally lost overboard. If gear is lost, try to recover it by making it a man-overboard drill.
  • Cut six-pack rings and similar items so that they do not become a noose for wildlife.
  • Practice Plus One Boating by bringing back whatever you take out, plus one trash item you find.

Back on land:

  • Take all trash ashore and dispose of it appropriately, either by recycling what you can (paper, plastic, glass, cans, plastics, antifreeze, oil, lead batteries, fishing gear and fishing line) or by placing it in the correct marina dumpster, or as part of your home waste system.
  • Encourage marinas to offer recycling facilities if they don’t already.

Use the mobile app Marine Debris Tracker to report debris you collect from the environment.

Green Boating Guide: